Chua Tian Bok Timothy v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtHigh Court (Singapore)
JudgeYong Pung How CJ
Judgment Date16 September 2004
Neutral Citation[2004] SGHC 208
Citation[2004] SGHC 208
Docket NumberCriminal Revision No 19 of 2004
Subject MatterConsiderations of public interest,Compounding of offences,Voluntarily causing hurt in road rage incident,Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Section 199 Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed), s 323 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Whether judge's discretion to refuse composition correctly exercised,Victim consenting to composition after seeking independent legal advice
Date16 September 2004
Defendant CounselBenjamin Yim Geok Choon (Deputy Public Prosecutor)
Published date17 September 2004
Plaintiff CounselSubhas Anandan and Anand Nalachandran (Harry Elias Partnership)

16 September 2004

Yong Pung How CJ:

1 This was a petition for the revision of a magistrate’s decision in withholding his consent to the composition of an offence under s 323 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed).

The facts

2 The petitioner, Timothy Chua Tian Bok, was charged under s 323 of the Penal Code with voluntarily causing hurt to one Toh Tong Lee (“the victim”) by punching him in the face. This incident occurred after a road accident where the petitioner had come out of his car and assaulted the victim. The petitioner was a passenger in the car. As a consequence of the alleged assault, the victim suffered three sets of injuries – a bruise on the right cheek, a superficial scratch below the bruise near the right side of the mouth and multiple elongated bruises on the left and right aspects of the front neck.

3 An offence under s 323 of the Penal Code is compoundable under s 199 of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed) (“the CPC”).

4 Section 199(1) of the CPC states:

The offences punishable under the Penal Code shown in the sixth column of Schedule A as being compoundable may be compounded by the person mentioned in that column provided that when an arrest has been effected or an application has been made for the issue of a warrant of arrest or summons the consent of a Magistrate or, if the offence is not triable by a Magistrate’s Court, of a District Judge, shall first be obtained.

5 The victim agreed to accept an ex gratia payment of $7,500 from the petitioner and confirmed his decision through independent counsel. The petitioner thereby applied for composition pursuant to s 199 of the CPC.

6 Magistrate Gilbert Low exercised his discretion to withhold consent to the composition because he felt that to do otherwise would be tantamount to diluting the court’s strict policy against road rage incidents and allowing a person in the petitioner’s position to buy himself out of his predicament. The magistrate observed that this strict policy had been extended to passengers of motor vehicles who resorted to violence against other road users, as well as first-time offenders. He also noted that, as a result of the alleged assault, the victim sustained multiple injuries.

Whether the magistrate exercised his discretion correctly

7 The main issue I had to decide was whether the magistrate erred in withholding his consent to the composition. It is undisputed that an offence under s 323 of the Penal Code is compoundable under s 199 of the CPC. As to the discretion of a judge to grant or withhold consent to composition, I have expressed my view in PP v Norzian bin Bintat [1995] 3 SLR 462 at 474, [52]:

[T]hat discretion is a judicial discretion and therefore one which must be exercised not only in accordance with the rules of reason and justice but also in accordance with the provisions of the law.

8 Further, in two of my recent decisions in Kee Leong Bee v PP [1999] 3 SLR 190 at [21] and Ho Yean Theng Jill v PP [2004] 1 SLR 254 at [40], I have said that:

Where an order involves a discretion of the court, the appellate court will not interfere with the exercise of the discretion unless it was exercised on demonstrably wrong principles or without any grounds, or if the judge had ignored some relevant provision of law ...

9 There are several general guidelines laid down in both foreign and local case law that may assist the court in the exercise of its discretion. I discussed these principles at length in Norzian bin Bintat (at 474–475, [54] and [56]):

[I]n a case where the public interest is involved, it is proper to withhold consent to composition. …

[I]n the absence of aggravating factors, the courts should...

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10 cases
  • Public Prosecutor v Donohue Enilia
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 5 November 2004
    ...40 In Kee Leong Bee v PP [1999] 3 SLR 190 at [21], which was cited in Ho Yean Theng Jill v PP at [40] and Chua Tian Bok Timothy v PP [2004] SGHC 208 at [8], I also held, in relation to the judge’s discretion to refuse or allow composition, Where an order involves a discretion of the court, ......
  • Public Prosecutor v Lim Yee Hua and another appeal
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 1 December 2017
    ...road rage violence applies with equal force to all road users (and not only motorists). In Chua Tian Bok Timothy v Public Prosecutor [2004] 4 SLR(R) 514, the offender, who was a passenger in the car driven by his wife, was charged with voluntarily causing hurt to the victim by punching him ......
  • Public Prosecutor v Ng Chee Tiong Tony
    • Singapore
    • Magistrates' Court (Singapore)
    • 15 May 2007
    ...causing grievous hurt’ under s 325 of the Code, caning should be imposed. 85 In the recent case of Chua Tian Bok Timothy v PP [2004] 4 SLR 514 at [12], the Honourable the Chief Justice again reiterated this tough stance towards road Our courts have consistently emphasised the seriousness of......
  • Public Prosecutor v Donohue Enilia
    • Singapore
    • High Court (Singapore)
    • 5 November 2004
    ...40 In Kee Leong Bee v PP [1999] 3 SLR 190 at [21], which was cited in Ho Yean Theng Jill v PP at [40] and Chua Tian Bok Timothy v PP [2004] SGHC 208 at [8], I also held, in relation to the judge’s discretion to refuse or allow composition, Where an order involves a discretion of the court, ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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